I've posted it a little early because I'm excited but here is my reading and analysis of RFC-1, the very first official Request for Comments document and an important piece of internet history.

I'm doing one of these a day for a year. You can follow along at @365-rfcs. I'll only be posting the really noteworthy ones on this account.

RFC-5 was an early (eventually abandoned) proposal for delivering rich applications over ARPANET. Specifically it was conceived as a way to connect to Doug Englebart's "mother of all demos" computing system remotely from a more typical OS! My writeup:

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

RFC-7 led me down an unexpected computer history rabbit hole where I learned about GORDO, an operating system that was quickly renamed to... SEX. Yeah.

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

I cannot wait to get to RFC-20 aka the first RFC whose contents I am extremely familiar with and have been for my entire programming career

RFC-15 is an important one: it's the initial proposal for Telnet! The first version of this program was written in late 1969 and it's a tool that I still occasionally use today, which is really amazing when you think about it.

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

Okay, RFC-20 is here! This is the RFC that says "we are going to use ASCII for communicating between computers". Read on to learn about what a character encoding even IS and why it still affects our day to day internet experience. It'll be a very%20fun%20read, I promise.

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

I contacted the Computer History Museum and paid them a small fee to have them scan the first 9 RFCs. I'm happy to say those scans are now online.

My post with interesting excerpts and things I learned looking at the scans:

The listing of the scans in their catalog, with a link to the PDF:

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

Hello from the storage warehouse of the Computer History Museum, BTW.

In my comments on RFC-32 I go on a digression about how much I love the 555 timer integrated circuit chip. Also, computer clock nerds, please check my work and make sure I did the right calculations and estimates. I'm not so fluent in this stuff.

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

@darius @365-rfcs it's pretty hard to see on my phone that "decent summary" is linked, although that's maybe feedback for the @blog team?

@darius as someone who works on open source specs from time to time, the first post to @365-rfcs was so great to read, and I'm so excited for more.

@gatewave umm I'm already planning a trip to the bay area so I can go inspect the originals

@darius cool stuff! savor those hand-drawn diagrams

@darius i just noticed your sorely needed rss-to-toots tool and now i'm like whoa i can follow interesting twets now

@darius i dig it!

i've been moving closer to learning to code recently as i overcome various longstanding mental roadblocks. gf is inspiring me too

that feeling of making something of use or value is great

is it easy to add next and previous links to your @365-rfcs blog posts?
Would make it a bit easier to catch up on them in chronological order. :)
Or is that something that @write_as would need to add instead?

@FiXato @365-rfcs @write_as I'd have to manually add them every day to two pages. I think I'm going to compile an index on the intro post and just update that. In the meantime, the urls will always be in the /rfc-N format

@FiXato @365-rfcs @darius This is on the roadmap, by the way. Hear this requested pretty frequently.

@darius (side note: mastodon won't let me follow because hyphens are not valid in usernames, according to the error I just got from the toot-lab)

@djsundog what version are you running? should be valid as of 2.6

@darius 2.6.1+glitch - I'll update to latest this evening and see if it resolves it. Thanks!

@djsundog cool. hyphens are valid characters in AP usernames so yeah, it should work

@darius @365-rfcs This has opened up the possibility for me to write SEX (GORDO) and I'm so excited to find out about it.

@darius @365-rfcs since it stands for Sigma Exchange System, and thus could also easily have been acronymed as SES, you'd almost have to assume it was named such on purpose...

@FiXato Oh I'm sure everyone involved knew exactly what they were doing. I have been in that kind of meeting before.

@darius please please please don't use telnet today; well, at least in combination with anything I rely on

@charles I use telnet to log into literal VAX machines hosted at museums, cool your jets

@darius Really nice post! But isn't the link missing at "[mentioned in my RFC-1 post]()"?

A few mouths ago I worked for a company who use telnet for everything..... And I'm the only one who thing its was a bad idea....

@darius @365-rfcs I am thoroughly enjoying your 365 RFCs series. It’s so fun to be reminded that many of the early ones were essentially what we would do today with email messages. (so-and-so is being added… or here is the list of current people… or notes from a meeting, etc.)

Thank you for doing this project!

@danyork You're welcome! I'm enjoying it myself. I'm heading down to the Computer History Museum next week to inspect paper records of the first ~400 RFCs in person, including what I believe are some original typewritten docs of the first few.

@darius Wow! Have fun! (For admittedly a somewhat warped definition of “fun” for those outside this space. ;-) )

In the work I do with the Internet Society (my employer), I wind up interacting with Steve Crocker on various DNS / DNSSEC issues. It’s fun to see his name on so many of these early RFCs, because that of course was how he got started in all of this.

@darius Indeed! And now in his 70s he’s still going strong on various Internet-related projects.

@darius you were not kidding about the hand-drawn diagrams being great

@darius Interesting! Were the RFCs previously in some kind of online system (maybe NLS itself?) and then lost to the world of computation until now? Or were the original copies actually made of paper?

@kragen They were mostly typewritten and copied and mailed around. Some were hand written! They were transcribed into text form in the late 90s so before then they were indeed not online.

@darius Surely 10E7 is not a hex value, but equivalent to 10e+7 = 10*10^7 = 100 billion? Although “1 part per 100 billion” error sounds too good, then.

@ryantouk That would not be the correct accuracy for a relatively inexpensive crystal clock, yeah.

@darius WAIT 10e+7 is 100 million, not billion, which is now 1000x more feasible. Oops!

@ryantouk yup, still it means 1 ms of clock drift a day which seems... overly ambitious

@darius 10e7 seems likely to be scientific notation: e7 == 10^7.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Friend Camp

Hometown is adapted from Mastodon, a decentralized social network with no ads, no corporate surveillance, and ethical design.